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New Pilot Program To Decarbonize Boston's Housing Stock

New Pilot Program targets building sizes of up to four units, offering grants to support electrification.

Today, Mayor Wu announced the launch of the City’s  Healthy and Green Retrofit Pilot Program. This new initiative – led by the Mayor’s Office of Housing with support from Oliver Sellers Garcia, the Mayor’s Green New Deal Director – will support owners of two to four-unit owner-occupied buildings with funding to jumpstart the decarbonization and electrification of Boston’s smaller building stock, while preserving affordability and preventing tenant displacement. The program will support building owners with energy assessments, construction management, and forgivable loan financing to accelerate Boston’s Green New Deal. Videos explaining the retrofit program are available on Mayor Wu’s Instagram in English and Spanish.

"With almost 80 percent of Boston's buildings requiring deep energy retrofits and decarbonization, our new Healthy & Green Retrofit Pilot Program signifies a pivotal movement toward achieving our city's carbon neutrality aspirations,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “By targeting the most common building type and preserving affordability, we are paving the way for a greener, healthier future for all Bostonians."

The new pilot program will offer grants in the form of forgivable loans of up to $50,000 per unit and provide comprehensive energy assessment and construction management services. The pilot is designed to serve as a model for other communities, with the anticipation that lessons learned will be readily applicable to diverse building types and sizes beyond Boston.

"With this launch, Boston is taking a groundbreaking step towards a healthier and greener future for our communities,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “The Healthy & Green Retrofit Pilot Program underscores our dedication to sustainable building practices and decarbonization. By focusing on two to four-unit owner-occupied buildings, we are making strides towards reducing the carbon footprint of the City. Together, we are building a more sustainable and equitable city for generations to come."

The Healthy & Green Retrofit Pilot Program's initial scope will include building owners partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Housing’s Boston Home Center (BHC) to provide construction management services. The retrofit work will be performed by pre-qualified private general contractors. The BHC is expanding the pool of eligible general contractors who will be eligible to bid and oversee retrofit work on individual homes. The BHC will manage the program to ensure high-quality, sustainable retrofit installations. 

“With our Green New Deal, Boston is making investments that directly deliver climate and quality of life solutions in an equitable manner,” said Oliver Sellers Garcia, Director of Boston’s Green New Deal. “The creation of this new program is pivotal in creating a new model for equity-first multi-family housing electrification.  BHC is scaling up to become a decarbonization department, and this pilot project will provide important lessons and proof of concept for growth in the coming years.”   

Owners of the selected buildings will collaborate with BHC and partners who specialize in decarbonization to outline the optimal green retrofit plan for each individual project. The integration of heat pumps to either supplement or replace existing heating and cooling systems will be an important component of the program. These new heat pumps are anticipated to render homes cleaner, healthier, and more resilient, representing a significant step forward in Boston's commitment to a Green New Deal by lowering emissions across sectors.

“National Grid looks forward to working with the Healthy and Green Retrofit Program, an innovative City of Boston pilot that advances our shared climate change, clean energy and equity goals,” said Chris Porter, Director, Customer Energy Management, National Grid. “Lessons learned from this groundbreaking program can be a model in helping all customers reduce their carbon footprint, more easily obtain clean energy solutions and ensure that health and wellbeing benefits from decarbonization are available to one and all.”

The announcement of the Healthy & Green Retrofit Pilot Program follows the announcement in March of this year of the Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program, as well as the City’s ordinance to adopt the Department of Energy Resources’ Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code. The Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program targets large, aging, affordable housing developments in the City and is supported by $10 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for energy performance improvements. This program is supported with $5 million in ARPA funds and  will significantly improve the health, safety, and comfort for the owners and occupants of small multifamily buildings, while also creating jobs and reinvesting in housing and neighborhoods. The program will lay the groundwork for future, scaled-up efforts to upgrade the city’s housing stock and achieve decarbonization goals. 

About the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH)

The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can obtain, maintain, and remain in safe, stable housing. The department develops and implements the City of Boston’s housing creation and homelessness prevention plans and collaborates with local and national partners to find new solutions and build more housing affordable to all, particularly those with lower incomes. For more information, please visit the MOH website.

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